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Works Of The Titans Bach And Haydn

1615 words - 7 pages

Johann Sebastian Bach and Franz Joseph Haydn were two composers who defined their respective Baroque and Classical periods. Bach was a master at perfecting existing styles and integrating foreign influences from France and Italy. Haydn’s contributions to the symphony and the string quarter led him to be called the “Father” of those two genres. Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D Major and Haydn’s Symphony No. 95 in C Minor, though written over 60 years apart and of different genres, share many similarities, such as their forms and dance-like style, but also differences in the feelings elicited and use of inversion.
Johann Sebastian Bach, the German composer, organist, violinist, and ...view middle of the document...

Though the form of _No. _3fits into the traditional idea of a Baroque suite, there are some very interesting features about Bach’s works. Movement II, Air, interestingly does not have a place in the traditional Baroque suite, where the opening Ouverture is usually followed by an Allemande or Sarabande. Air, being the French word for “aria,” or song, was written by Bach as an instrumental song for only strings and continuo, one that could be danced to, since his Orchestral Suiteswere written as sets of dance pieces. This is a prime example of Bach incorporating French influence into his native German style.
As for the form of the Air itself, it follows the traditional Baroque pattern of A B. There is a clear “full stop” in effect after each A B phrase, as at 1:30 in the CD recording. This “full stop” will also be evident in Franz Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 95 in C Minor, Movement II, Andante cantabile. In listening to this piece, it conveys a feeling of classy refinement, fitting as it was written for such a cultured institution as the Collegium Musicum of the University of Leipzig. Also fittingly, there is a slight tinge of restraint conveyed by the piece, as if one is holding his breath. A guess as to the cause of this is the serious attitude at the Collegium and also Bach’s restless there – three years later he succeeded in a bid to be appointed the Royal Court Composer of Poland.
The first thing that draws one’s attention when listening to Air is the walking bass – the soothing, absolutely even in tempo bass line provided by the cellos and bass viols. This walking bass line continues straight for an impressive 138 notes. In the meanwhile, the second violins and violas subtlety sneak into focus after their opening whole note with their beautiful counterpoints. Bach is widely considered the master of counterpoint, and this is a prime example. The second violins and violas’ lines, composed mainly of half, eighth, and sixteenth notes, are much different from the constant and consistent movements of the walking bass. However, when performed together, they fit together surprisingly harmoniously, a testament to Bach’s mastery and genius.
Franz Joseph Haydn, in many ways, could be considered Bach’s contemporary in the Classical period. He was one of the most important, gifted, and famous composers of the period. Haydn is widely known as both the “Father of the Symphony” and the “Father of the String Quartet” due to the key advances he made in both genres. His musical output was astronomical, having composed 104 symphonies, 83 string quartets, over 20 operas, and a plethora of divertimentos, trios, and sonatas. Like Bach, it took time for Haydn to gain fame and prestige, but unlike Bach, Haydn did become very famous in the course of his lifetime, after assuming the role of Kapellmeister, or music director, in 1757 under Count Morzin. However, it was not until Haydn’s musical tours of London in 1791-1792, and subsequently 1794-1795, that...

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